Fans of The Punisher are pitting the two live-action iterations of Jigsaw against each other in a literal head-to-head, face-to-face contest. Marvel's most brutal vigilante was most recently adapted for Netflix, as part of the ever-dwindling corner of the MCU occupied by The Defenders. Played by Jon Bernthal, Frank Castle first debuted in season 2 of Daredevil before spinning off into his own solo outing.
Though many believe Netflix's version to be the definitive portrayal of the character, The Punisher has been brought to life a few times. Thomas Jane played the role in a watered down, big-screen version before offering a more accurate interpretation in Adi Shankar's Bootleg Universe. The character received the reboot treatment in 2008, with Ray Stevenson strapping on the skull vest for Lexi Alexander's Punisher: War Zone. Though it struggled at the box office, the film amassed a passionate cult following that includes Kevin Smith and Patton Oswalt amongst its ranks. Recently celebrating its 10th anniversary, fans of Punisher: War Zone emerged in force to share their love for the film - especially Dominic West's fittingly over-the-top and cartoonish portrayal of iconic Punisher villain, Jigsaw.
Thanks to Bloody Disgusting editor John Squires, West's interpretation is once again back in the spotlight. Also shared in a post by Twitter user @UpToTASK, an image of West's Jigsaw has been placed side-by-side with Barnes' recently unveiled (and infinitely less grotesque) version. Neither offered their thoughts in extensive detail, with the former simply giving Punisher: War Zone's version the win and the latter now afraid of what season 2 of The Punisher will serve up.
Billy Russo was last seen bandaged and potentially brain-damaged following his fateful encounter with Frank. With it revealed that he had played a part in the murder of Frank's family, Billy had his infamously pretty face dragged and otherwise introduced to shards of glass from various broken mirrors. As such, anticipation was at fever pitch for how the character would look when he finally awoke and sought vengeance. Thanks to a newly-released teaser trailer, fans got their first official look. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement; and debate inevitably raged beneath the aforementioned posts as fans took the opportunity to compare, contrast, and outright lambast the new iteration.
Rather than having a patchwork of scars and wounds, the Netflix version of the character looks more or less intact. With only a few marks to show that he ever even got on the wrong side of the dreaded Punisher, it would seem the writers are indeed going with a more non-traditional take. Rather than his face, Billy's mind will be the jigsaw, with the character attempting to piece together his memories and the life he feels was robbed from him. That concept is very much emphasized in the teaser, and will no doubt put the former friends once more on a collision course.
With Josh Stewart playing a prominent antagonist, it remains to be seen whether Billy will be the Big Bad or something else entirely. It has even been speculated that they may even ultimately team up. With these images, as well as the fact that the character reportedly won't even be called Jigsaw, it's easy to see why fans may be disappointed. Given some of the backlash The Dark Knight received for how it handled Harvey Dent's deformity, however, it makes a certain kind of sense to go for a grittier, more realistic take visually and explore the fractured persona on an internal and psychological level. Should fans ultimately remain disappointed, however, at least they'll always have Punisher: War Zone.
The Punisher season 2 premieres Friday, January 18 on Netflix